I get it. Writers need to produce stories. Hundreds in any given year, in fact. The job’s gotta be pretty easy when a bunch of important shit goes down – a big trade, a big injury, a big controversy – even though the word “easy” isn’t exactly the right word, because I’m sure a bunch of work is involved in research alone. But still, when something exciting happens, it’s not like you’re all that strapped for story ideas.
Ichiro not being the Mariners’ leadoff hitter, however, is NOT all that exciting. Except for maybe the players involved. But for the fans, we only care about the results. We care if it works (or “works” in the sense that the offense is better, and we can point to Figgins and/or Ichiro as being figureheads in what’s working), and we care if it doesn’t work (i.e. the offense is still shitty and Figgins and/or Ichiro continue to struggle).
But, we don’t care when it’s February 21st, when the games that count are a month away, and there’s nothing else to talk about but who’s going to hit where.
Because, honestly, what’s the BFD? Aside from the very first inning – and maybe an inning or two later in the ballgame – it’s not like we’re guaranteed to see Figgins batting first. If it happens, it’s random, but more often than not we’ll see him somewhere else (2nd, 3rd, 6th, etc.). Yeah, Ichiro used to be a leadoff hitter, but more often than not we have always seen Ichiro while batting in innings 2-9; and more often than not, we didn’t see him lead off those innings.
So, when you ask him how his approach is going to change: of COURSE it’s not going to change! Every at bat is different and depends on the circumstances at that instant. Are there men on base, are there any outs, is the third baseman playing close in on the grass? I guarantee you that Ichiro will try to bunt at the same rate as he has his whole career. He’ll get a lot of infield hits, he’ll probably continue to decline in his outfield hits, and he’ll continue to walk almost never.
The real story here is that Figgins is being penciled in as an everyday player. On the one hand, I get it; he’s costing this team a buttload and we might as well do SOMETHING to light a fire under his ass to get some value out of him. On the other hand, Jesus Christ does this underwhelm the shit out of me.
I figured the whole idea of having a leadoff hitter – aside from having someone fast who can steal you a bunch of bases and get into scoring position for your heavier hitters – was to have your best hitter up to the plate as many times as humanly possible (obviously, the first batter in your lineup is likelier to have the most plate appearances because he’s first). Based on past performance (the last two years, that is), what they’re telling me is that they want to see the very worst hitter in the Major Leagues get the very most plate appearances on this team.
Like I said, I get it, but I don’t GET it. Someone, please tell me this is all a nightmare and I’m going to wake up from a two-year coma in an alternate universe where Chone Figgins has earned his contract and I’m married to a rolling stable of 72 virgins …